MAUREEN TWEYONGYERE: Grit as a determinant of a successful career

MAUREEN TWEYONGYERE is the Director Career & Skills Development Centre, Makerere University Business School, Kampala.

MAUREEN TWEYONGYERE is the Director Career & Skills Development Centre, Makerere University Business School, Kampala (PHOTO/Courtesy)

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day-in, day-out. Not just for the week, not for a month but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it is a marathon, not a spirit.” Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth

There are numerous factors that are said to determine the success of an individual. These include the skills they have, their social network, work habits, positive mental attitude, the ability to be creative, the level of education they have and their mindset about work and success. These and many others are factors that researchers have been able to talk about. However, several people have, in recent years, been talking about Grit as a key determinant of long-term success for an individual. Grit is said to be many things but comes out very well as firmness and strength of character of an individual. It is the spirit of success, the spirit of winning, and one of the key researchers who has called it passion and perseverance over a long term.  

You may be very skillful but what happens when you fail? If you fail and don’t get up you will likely not succeed. Grit which is long-termness of attitude and the ability to continue to work. It is tenacity. This is what will contribute to the success of the individual in the long term.

What are the factors that makeup grit? Various people who have talked about grit say that it is about the ‘G’ growth of mindset, people who want to continue to improve themselves, who want to grow are the ones who are likely to be able to be passionate and persevere over a long time. The ‘R’ in the grit is said to be for resilience. Are you able to overcome and hang in there over a long time period when something is happening to you? That is an important factor in being able to succeed over a long time. ‘I’ initiative is one of those factors in the word Grit. Are you able to be creative to make numerous things? The last one there is ‘T’ Tenacity. Tenacity is that ability to do things irrespective of what happens to you. To be able to be firm, to be able to look at long-term success in what you are doing. 

Other researchers have brought out several dimensions which also say the same thing. They say Grit includes, courage, consciousness, endurance, resilience, and excellence. It is said that those people who have grit, have courage. This is the ability to manage failure, speak up when you have to, and take initiative to do things when you have to. Consciousness; having plans to do things, plans to achieve over the long term. Endurance; the ability to undergo any change that may come up in your work, your workplace or your career. Resilience is the confidence to get up when you fail, the hope that things will be better. 

Grit demands one to be excellent in their performance and deliver outstanding work. That firmness of character is rare and it is possibly one of the key success factors for managers, leaders, and professionals over a long period of time in their careers. It is the ability to overcome challenges that you see. It is believed that these days’ people are becoming soft over their careers, they are giving up on things whereas if you are going to have long-term success you need to be able to hang in there. Be able to uphold the principles that you thought about, be able to be tenacious. Exceptional performance over a long term is driven by Grit. 

“There are shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, and figuring out really hard problems, it takes time – longer than most people imagine. Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you are willing to stay loyal to it. It is doing what you love, not falling in love -staying in love.” Angela Duckworth

The writer, MAUREEN TWEYONGYERE is the Director Career & Skills Development Centre, Makerere University Business School, Kampala.

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